Winter Fun!! …photos from February in Nagano

Iiyama snow festival (Feb 8-9)…

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Sledding (always!)…


Igloo festival (late January through end of Feb)




(did you notice her outfits change?? We went twice! We had to go back to see the completed shinkansen igloo!)

And finally the storms! (Feb 8-9 and Feb 14-17)




Snow-locked Mada-pow: Winter Wonderland for locals only…

This weekend was set to be our biggest weekend since opening Crawfish Madarao. We had 6 reservations over the faux four-day weekend (Monday is an unofficial holiday or “sick day”- don’t tell your boss!) 

Jake and I began the weekend pumped for new visitors and a full-house in our humble mountain getaway. The forecast looked great for winter fun, the snow festival is on, and our pipes and water all running fine. THEN… The biggest snow storm in 45 years dumped on central and northern Honshu from East to West. Having lived in snow country for most of this season, we thought nothing of it, but our guests have to get out of the cities where snow is a rare occurrence. Some people got out, but no one got here. Alas our 6 reservations dropped to 1 and we’re in the red again. 

We knew it was a risk to open a B&B where more than half the year is “off-season” and the summer season requires a lot of advertising, but we didn’t consider that PERFECT winter weather, PERFECT MADA-POW is also disastrous weather. 

The snow festival is very local but super fun, I hope we can share with more people next year. 

The Igloo fest is ongoing for the rest of February.

Looking for the silver lining, without guests, we can go enjoy the festivals again today and report back to you for next year or later this month. With an extra 50cm on the ground at the bottom of the mountain and a little sunshine today, I am sure the sculptures will look amazing this afternoon. Off to see the life-size shinkansen at the Igloo festival and get Fio in the sled again.

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More photos to follow!!

Japan news: refreshing or threatening?

My husband and I are often working in the dining room during the day and the TV is usually on. A few days ago, 10 minutes of a 15 minute news program was taken up by the story of a missing 9- year-old girl. We both commented how special it is that the national news is taking so much time on this kind of story and the indication that this is very unusual in Japan.

The next 5 minutes were global headlines and a little campaigning for upcoming local elections in Tokyo.

The next show was a longer news program (like 20/20 or Dateline in the US) and the topic was a comedian who will retire to focus on being healthier to conceive a child. That was a 40-minute news program.

3 days later, I was playing with our daughter and the news was on. As usual, I wasn’t paying any attention to the TV, but my husband said, “they found the girl. Some guy in the building took her.” I showed concerned and inquired a little more about the news segment I’d missed. He left the room to get something and the next news story was about the comedian retiring to conceive a baby and going into detail about national statistics and Japanese women waiting to have babies. Then 5 minutes about Sochi Olympics, and another 5 minutes for other global headlines, Tokyo campaigning, and a brief comment on Thai elections.

It’s beautiful that they found that girl. It’s feels funny that this is the most important thing to report on followed by a woman’s choice to put her health and fertility ahead of a prominent public career: not just for one news segment or even one day, but really this was top news for three days. Japan is a generally apathetic and isolated country, and I’ve learned that even if I watched the news every day, all day, I probably wouldn’t know much more about the world or current events.

Print news is different, of course, but I think less and less are reading now. So if you rely on television, you’re totally isolated. Is this simple and beautiful? Keeping things at home and relevant mostly to your own country and area? Or incredibly ethno-centric and potentially dangerous?

…on a different note, I just wrote this while waiting at the doctor for a scheduled appointment. I waited 45 minutes to be seen for 10, but I only paid the equivalent of 2 US dollars thanks to my national health.

Indeed it is an interesting place to live and there is good and bad I. Everything or everyone. That’s not to stop us discussing what can be better, though. 🙂